365/365 – because of you

Dear Danny,
Welcome to your second New Year! Last year you celebrated New Years Eve by drinking down a bottle and going to bed early – this year you celebrated by dancing and singing to Beyonce. I’m not sure there is a better way than that to sum up what 2010 was about for our little family, but you know I’m going to try!
You have been an absolute thrill ride for your father and I this year. You started off as a smiling, cooing little moose of a baby. In an impossibly short amount of time, your chubby cheeks gave way to show us the form of your beautiful face, and your once round physique turned lean and muscular. There is no denying it – you are all kid. 100% tough cookie. A little boy where my baby used to be.
It is better, I will say that. The idea of you growing up turned out to be far more traumatic than the fact of it. I love watching you run and climb and I adore listening to you laugh at your own quirky sense of humor. You are starting to put words together and giving us a glimpse of the things you find most important in life (Mama, Daddy, cat, dog) and the concepts that make the most sense to you (get down? Sit! Touch Down!). In the last few weeks you have finally remembered how to go to sleep which means that your Dad and I can sleep off the haze and see the world in color again. If you had a million dollars in the bank, you couldn’t have given us a better Christmas present.
2010 was a good year for you, Danny. Because of you, it was a good year for us too.
Still, this was the year that your Dad lost his dear Grandmother, Billie. This was the year I lost my sweet Uncle Bill. Both were relatively unexpected and we found ourselves completely unprepared for the grief. In a way, I was grateful that you were too young to understand what was going on. At the same time, I just don’t know where to begin telling you about these faces in photographs – these beautiful souls who loved you so much – who left us before you were old enough to remember them.
Your Dad lost his job back in March, just a few days after you turned 6 months old. To you, that meant simply that Mommy left for work every day and Daddy stayed home instead. You took it in stride, even if we didn’t. You didn’t know that you were going to start day care the following Monday, or have any idea that just days before he was let go we had looked at each other filled with hope that things were beginning to work out. We didn’t have to explain the situation to you, or come up with reasons for why bad things happen when you haven’t done anything wrong. You stayed blissfully unaware as we juggled money around, trying to stay on top of things or at least only a few steps behind. You stayed your happy, loving self. You kept us smiling with your antics, even as opportunities fell apart.
It is hard to classify 2010 as good/bad/happy/sad because standing here – with 2011 stretching out before us with its possibilities – it is hard to feel anything but blessed. The year was difficult, but we have learned to count our blessings and take everything a week, a day, or an hour at time if necessary. Many of the same challenges from 2010 are waiting for us in the year ahead, but we will not wish away this time – this amazing and absolutely priceless time – with you, just because the road is rockier than we would have liked.
Because of you, we smile anyway.
Because of you, our year was greater than the sum of its parts.
Because of you, we know that 2011 is going to be amazing.
New Years Eve, 2010

129/365 – Mother’s Day

Dear Danny,
You certainly don’t realize it, but today is Mother’s Day. Don’t worry though– a smile is pretty much the only gift from you that I expect and I’m sure that you have enough of those to spare. Today we celebrated the day in the way we probably always will: by going to church and spending time together – enjoying our little family. Some people say that Mother’s Day is a corporate holiday, created by greeting card manufacturers and jewelry stores with the intent of driving up a demand for gifts, but in our family this day is pretty special. Our Mommies are important to us, today and every day, and on this day especially we try to make sure that they understand what they mean to our lives. You should get used to observing this holiday because you already have a lot of Mamas in your life; right now you have 2 Great-Grandmothers, 3 Grandmoms, an array of honorary Aunts and Grandma’s and, of course, you have me.
I’ve wondered for awhile how this day would make me feel, now that I can say without any hesitation that I am a mother. The process of bringing you to the world changed every part of me – stretched the heights and the depths of what I could feel. This is my first Mother’s Day to celebrate with you, but I have been quietly playing my part in this day for awhile now. I have been pregnant for this holiday 3 times. I have always tried to protect this day, separate it from my sorrow, in order to celebrate the mothers in my life – wonderful women who deserve more of me than the pained expression I’ve worn for the last few years. I have berated and chastised myself for feeling so sad and neglected on this day – frustrated at myself for not having an answer to what seems like a very simple question: Am I a mother now? If not, then what am I?
Being pregnant for any amount of time allows you to see yourself as a mother. If you lose that identity, it’s easy to wonder if you are anything at all.
You see, baby, this can be a difficult day for some people. I used to think that motherhood was inevitable – a predictable milestone on the path every woman walks. I didn’t realize there were women who wanted to be mothers and couldn’t be. It’s an empathy I have now, an awareness that haunts me even with so much to celebrate.
Now that you are here it seems decadent and extravagant to have this day. I feel greedy accepting the attention because I already have my prize – my wonderful and exciting life with you, a life punctuated with question marks and exclamation points instead of periods. My beautiful and sweet son, my crazy dare devil monkey, my light in the darkness. You came into my life and brought back my smile, my faith, and my hope. You fill me with confidence and there is no where I go that I can’t hold my head up high because I am your mother. You are already so strong, so smart, so fearless. You are growing up before our eyes and we spend our days memorizing images of you, never wanting to blink and miss a moment because we know. We know it will all go by so fast.
Right now you live in a small world and we are the center of it. Every day that world gets bigger and I am trying to prepare myself for the future when I will have much more competition for your affection. I’m sure I will insist on rules you don’t like and force you to visit with the family when you would rather hang out with friends. I’m sure that you will do odd things with your hair and wear strange clothes. Maybe you will love music the way that we do, and maybe you wont. Whatever you do, you will surely believe that I don’t understand you and maybe I wont. Right now I know everything about you, but one day I may be searching for you on social networking platforms just to get a glimpse of anything at all. But you know what? I’m not worried. We will figure it out – I’ve always done my best work on the fly anyway.

You will grow and learn how to walk, and someday I will grow and learn how to let you fall.

For now, though, I have my sweet little baby who smiles and lights up the room – who expects nothing from me but love and bananas. The boy who will always be the very center of my universe. My precious son, the child who made me a mother.
Mother’s Day, 2010